Date: August 2012
Place: Lahemaa, Estonia
This little fellow with antennae longer than its body exploring my hands is the flat-faced longhorn beetle (Lamiinae) from the Cerambycidae (Cipricornia) family within the Coleoptera order of insects. It came to me to see the amateur beach ball match we had been playing at the summer camp in the North-Eastern Estonia. As you see, I was quite happy about that surprise meeting.
The longhorn beetles, or longicorns, as their name suggests, can be easily identified by the very long antennae. Some representatives, for instance the male of the timberman beetle (Acanthocinus aedilis), flaunt the antennae, which are four or five times longer than their body. However, not all longhorn beetles possess such distinguishing feature; some of them, like the blackspotted pliers support beetle (Rhagium mordax) have the antennae twice as short as their body length. In general, Cerambycidae is a quite large (more than 17000 species) and cosmopolitan family. This is why there are still some controversial opinions about certain members of it.
But what is known for sure is that certain species of longhorn beetles, for example Parandra caspia, are serious pests of forests and wooden objects: their larvae feed on wood, causing extensive damage to living trees and lumber. Still, there are other insects, reptiles and birds, who find the beetles and their larvae very tasty, in this way keeping their population at the acceptable level. This is how the natural balance is maintained… and it is better not to disturb it.

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